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Last Updated on January 14, 2021

Signs You Might Lack Iron (And 9 Iron-Rich Foods for Your Diet)

Signs You Might Lack Iron (And 9 Iron-Rich Foods for Your Diet)

Have you been feeling tired lately, even though you have been getting a good night’s sleep every night? If so, your body may lack iron, causing you to suffer from an iron deficiency without even knowing it, especially if you are a woman. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 10% of women are iron deficient and likely don’t realize it.

Iron deficiency is, fortunately, quite easy to correct with changes to diet and possibly incorporating iron supplements into your daily routine. First, you should learn to identify the symptoms when you lack iron so you know when to go see your doctor.

The Importance of Iron to the Body

While most people don’t consider iron as being a nutrient, it is actually an essential mineral to the human body. Iron is an important component of hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your body. If your iron levels are low, your body will not get the oxygen it needs to function, which can lead to symptoms such as fatigue.

Iron also has other important uses to your body. It is essential in maintaining healthy skin, hair, and nails. Furthermore, iron is used in the production of several hormones in the body, meaning that if you lack iron, your mood and overall health may be affected[1].

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Symptoms of Iron Deficiency

If you lack iron, early symptoms may be so mild that they simply go unnoticed. However, as your body becomes more and more depleted of iron and the anemia increases, the signs and symptoms will also increase. Some of the most common iron deficiency symptoms are:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Frequent infections
  • Headache
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
  • Brittle nails
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt, or starch
  • Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia
  • An uncomfortable tingling or crawling feeling in your legs (restless leg syndrome)

If you or one of your loved ones develops these symptoms and you are unsure what the underlying cause actually is, see your doctor. If you lack iron, it cannot be self diagnosed, and self treatment is, for the most part, limited to what you choose to eat. A doctor will be able to prescribe the best treatment, including diet changes and even iron supplements to return your iron levels back to normal[2].

Iron-Deficiency Anemia

    Five Reasons You May Need Iron Supplements

    There are many reasons why a doctor might prescribe iron supplements[3] to you on top of making changes to your diet in order to get your iron levels back to a normal level.

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    1. You Are Anemic

    Iron deficiency anemia is the lack of iron in your blood that prevents it from transporting oxygen to all the cells in your body. There are many causes of this condition, ranging from cancer to menstruation. While you should also investigate the cause, it is important to get your iron levels back to normal to ensure you are as healthy as you can be.

    2. You Are Pregnant

    Women who are pregnant need much more iron than women that aren’t as their body is producing more blood to support the fetus. The recommended daily dose of iron for pregnant women is 27 mg each day. If you cannot get this iron through your diet, doctors will prescribe supplements in order to ensure you don’t lack iron during this critical time.

    3. You Experience Regular Blood Loss

    Anyone who loses a lot of blood will need an iron supplement to return their levels back to normal. People who donate blood regularly need the supplements to ensure that their iron levels stay within the normal range.

    4. You Have an Infant

    Babies build stores of excess iron to be used during the first six months of life because their mother’s milk doesn’t contain enough iron. Most pediatricians recommend a formula that contains iron if you bottle-feed.

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    If your baby was born premature, the iron stores more than likely did not have time to develop. If this is the case, your doctor may prescribe an additional iron supplement.

    5. You Take Iron-Depleting Medication

    Some medications will quickly deplete your iron levels and cause you to lack iron in the long-term. In order to prevent this from happening, most physicians will prescribe an iron supplement alongside the medications to reduce the risk of iron deficiency.

    Good Sources of Iron

    Most people get all the iron they need from the foods they eat. By altering your diet, you can increase the amount of iron you get daily without having to take supplements. Some iron-rich foods are:

    • Red meat
    • Pork
    • Poultry
    • Seafood
    • Beans
    • Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach
    • Dried fruit, such as raisins and apricots
    • Iron-fortified cereals, breads, and pastas
    • Peas

    Before you begin any type of diet, be sure you consult with your doctor or other health care professional to be sure it is safe and the right choice for your health if you lack iron.

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    The Bottom Line

    Iron deficiency is one of the most common causes of anemia in the United States. In many cases, it can be easily treatable with the help of your diet and, if needed, iron supplements. After a few days on the supplements, you should start to feel normal again.

    As always, if you don’t feel any different after taking the iron, consult with your doctor and get the help you need to take care of your iron deficiency once and for all.

    More for When You Lack Iron

    Featured photo credit: Shane via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] NIH: Iron
    [2] Health Scope Magazine: Iron Deficiency Anemia
    [3] Healthline: Who Should Take Iron Supplements?

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    Brian Wu

    Health Writer, Author

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    Last Updated on January 26, 2021

    Science Says A Glass Of Red Wine Can Replace 1 Hour Exercising

    Science Says A Glass Of Red Wine Can Replace 1 Hour Exercising

    Are you a red wine drinker? What if I tell you sipping in a glass of wine can equate to an hour of exercise? Yup, it’s tried and tested. A new scientific study has just confirmed this wonderful news. So next time you hold a glass of Merlot, you can brag about one hour of hard workout. Rejoice, drinkers!

    What the study found out

    “I think resveratrol could help patient populations who want to exercise but are physically incapable. Resveratrol could mimic exercise for the more improve the benefits of the modest amount of exercise that they can do.”

    (applauds)

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    I’m not saying this, but the study’s principal investigator Jason Dyck who got it published in the Journal of Physiology in May.

    In a statement to ScienceDaily, Dyck pointed out that resveratrol is your magic “natural compound” which lavishes you with the same benefits as you would earn from working out in the gym.

    And where do you find it? Fruits, nuts and of course, red wine!

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    Did I forget to mention Dyck also researched resveratrol can “enhance exercise training and performance”?

    There are limits, of course

    But, all is not gold as they say. If you’re a lady who likes to flaunt holding a glass of white wine in the club or simply a Chardonnay-lover,you have a bad (sad) news. The “one hour workout” formula only works with red wine, not non red wines. And don’t be mistaken and think you’ve managed 4 to 6 hours of workout sessions if you happen to gulp down a bottle of red wine.

    And what can replace the golden lifetime benefits of exercise?Exercise is just as important as you age. Period! But hey, don’t be discouraged; look at the bigger picture here. A glass of red wine is not a bad deal after all!

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    The health benefits of red wine

    But just how beneficial is the red alcoholic beverage to your body? As we all know red wine is a healthier choice youc an make when boozing.

    Let’s hear it from a registered dietitian. Leah Kaufman lists red wine as the “most calorie friendly” alcoholic beverage. Sure, you won’t mind adding up to a mere 100 calories per 5-ounce glass of red wine after you realize it contains antioxidants, lowers risk of heart disease and stroke, reduces risk of diabetes-related diseases, helps avoid formation of blood clots and lowers bad cholesterol level.

    Wantmore? Wine could also replace your mouthwash because the flavan-3-ols in red wines can control the “bad bacteria” in your mouth.To add to that list of benefits, moderate wine drinking may be beneficial for your eyes too – a recent study mentions.

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    Be aware of the risks, too

    Having mentioned all the ‘goods’ about red wine, you cannot underplay the fact that it is still an alcohol, which isn’t the best stuff to pour into your body. What is excessive drinking going to do to your body? Know the risks and you should be a good drinker at the end of the day.

    However, you don’t want to discard the red vino from your “right eating”regimen just because it stains your teeth blue. M-o-d-e-r-a-t-i-o-n. Did you read that? That’s the operative word when it comes to booze.

    By the way, when chocolate is paired with wine, particularly red, they can bring you some exceptional benefits towards your health.But again, if you tend to go overboard and booze down bottles after bottles, you are up for the negative side of alcohol, and we all know what too much of sweetness (sugar) can do to our body (open invitation to diabetes and heart diseases if you aren’t aware).

    Folks, the red grape beverage is certainly a good buy to have a good hour’s worth of cardio, provided you keep the ‘M’ word in mind. Cheers!

    Featured photo credit: James Palinsad via flickr.com

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